Pain Meds for Dogs

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Running Over Field

Pain management is an essential aspect of canine veterinary treatment. Because dogs do not exhibit pain in the same manner that people do, it is up to dog owners and veterinarians to collaborate to assess pain levels and provide appropriate treatment.

Pain medicine is prescribed for a variety of conditions, including surgery, injury, arthritis, pancreatitis, IVDD, and cancer. Different pain drugs are more effective for different diseases, and each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

With the right pain management, many dogs can enjoy happy, comfortable lives in spite of their painful medical conditions.


Never provide over-the-counter or prescription drugs to your pet without first seeing a veterinarian. When a medicine is taken incorrectly, it might create difficulties. Your veterinarian is the ideal person to ask about correct pain medication dose and administration for your dog.

  • 01 of 07

    Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

    NSAIDs are the most widely recommended medications in dogs for pain and inflammation, particularly in disorders such as osteoarthritis and soft-tissue injuries. Prostaglandins are hormones that have a role in fever and inflammation, and drugs in this category function by preventing or decreasing their synthesis. NSAIDs are pain relievers that reduce inflammation and heat.

    NSAIDs can be quite efficient at treating pain caused by inflammation, but they also have a number of negative side effects. These medications can induce nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, gastrointestinal irritation and bleeding, as well as liver and renal damage. Before administering an NSAID, your vet may need to do certain lab tests to ensure that your dog does not have any underlying problems that might be exacerbated by NSAID usage.

    Aspirin, (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen are examples of over-the-counter NSAIDs (Aleve). Ibuprofen and naproxen are poisonous to dogs and should never be given to them. Acetaminophen has a small safety margin and is normally avoided in dogs.

    When taken under the care of a veterinarian, aspirin may be safe for certain dogs. To protect the gastrointestinal system, only the buffered (coated) type should be used. The suggested dose range for dogs is 10-15mg/kg, however see your veterinarian to determine the safest dosage for your dog.

    The majority of NSAIDs for dogs are only accessible with a prescription. All of the NSAIDs listed below can be used orally (tablet, capsule, chewable, or suspension). Some are also available in injectable form for use in hospitals.

    • carprofen (Rimadyl, Novox)
    • deracoxib (Deramaxx)
    • firocoxib (Previcox): less effective for pain than other NSAIDs; more often used in dogs to treat certain cancers
    • grapiprant (Galliprant): works differently from some other NSAIDs and may be safer for some dogs
    • (Metacam)
    • piroxicam (Feldene)
    • obenacoxib (Onsior): can only be used once daily for three days at a time
  • 02 of 07


    Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that can also be used to reduce pain in some circumstances. Steroids inhibit the immune system in addition to lowering inflammation, therefore long-term usage for pain relief is rarely suggested. These medications are more likely to be used on dogs that have pain and immune-mediated disorders at the same time.

    Increased thirst and urination, increased hunger, weight gain, gastrointestinal disturbance, and restlessness are among adverse effects of corticosteroids. These medicines can potentially harm organs and physiological function, especially if taken often or over lengthy periods of time. This is why veterinarians prefer NSAIDs and other pain relievers to corticosteroids.

    Prednisone, prednisolone, methylprednisolone, and are the most often recommended steroids by veterinarians.

  • 03 of 07

    Opioid Analgesics

    Opioids are the most potent analgesics currently accessible. On the market, there are several opioid analgesics, some of which are utilized in dogs. In a nutshell, they work by altering certain pain receptors in the body.

    Injectable opioid analgesics are commonly used by veterinarians to relieve pain before, during, and soon after surgery. They can also be used to treat severe injuries that cause acute pain. Because of the risk for negative effects, veterinarians seldom prescribe oral opioids for dogs to use at home.

    Sedation, dysphoria, disorientation, nausea, and vomiting are some of the negative effects of opioids in dogs. Slowed heart rate and respiration are also possible in dogs. Long-term usage of opioids can raise a dog's tolerance, making them less effective.

    The most common opioid analgesics used by veterinarians include the following:

    • buprenorphine
    • butorphanol
    • codeine
    • fentanyl
    • hydromorphone
    • morphine
    • oxymorphone
  • 04 of 07


    Tramadol is a synthetic opioid analgesic. It is not technically an opioid, but is considered an opioid-like analgesic because it has a very similar structure and method of action.

    Tramadol is often used to treat mild to moderate pain and can be used in conjuction with certain other pain medications (like NSAIDS or gabapentin) to manage moderate to severe pain.

    The side effects of tramadol are similar to those of opoids but may be milder.

    Tramadol is typically prescribed as a tablet or capsule to be given by mouth every 8-12 hours.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Gabapentin is an anti-convulsant that has analgesic properties. It has shown to be effective at relieving nerve pain and many types of chronic pain.

    Experts aren't sure exactly how gabapentin works to relieve pain. It affects the electrical activity of the brain and the neurotransmitters in the body (chemicals that send messages between nerve cells).

    Gabapentin is typically given orally once or twice daily. It is available as a tablet, or capsule but can be compounded into a suspension for small dogs.

  • 06 of 07

    Herbs and Supplements

    Many dog owners are interested in using natural pain relief for themselves and their pets. Several plants and supplements appear to help with pain and inflammation. Be aware that not all of these are suitable for dogs, so get guidance from your veterinarian. A who specializes in alternative veterinary treatment may be recommended to you (such as homeopathy and traditional chinese veterinary medicine).

    Cannabidiol, or CBD, has grown popular as a pain reliever in both people and pets, with few or no adverse effects. These products, however, must be handled with caution. THC-free CBD for pets from a reputed vendor is required. Your veterinarian can assist you in selecting the right CBD supplement for your dog.

  • 07 of 07

    Pain Management Alternatives

    There are several alternative remedies that can help you manage your dog's discomfort without (or in addition to) using medicines. Acupuncture, cold laser therapy, and physical therapy are among them. These services are already available from some veterinarians. If so, your veterinarian might recommend you to a specialist who specializes in these procedures.